(Jan. 26)  If it is true that Turkey has placed a $500,000 bounty on basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom, the United States should impose strong sanctions against Turkey.

Freedom’s only offense to the Mideast nation is that he has the temerity to criticize Turkey’s authoritarian Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Freedom speaks the truth. Erdogan is a malignant cancer in world affairs, under whom Turkey already erects multiple roadblocks to international harmony. Diplomatically, it is blocking Sweden from joining NATO. Militarily, it has been conducting murderous rampages in Syria. And that’s just a sample of its nefarious doings, some of which prompt my wise colleague Tom Rogan to argue that Turkey itself should be suspended from NATO.

The outrageous bounty reportedly placed on the ace rebounder’s head is simply one major provocation too far.

It might be justifiable — but still not wise — to make Mr. Freedom the only issue in penalizing Turkey. Such a move, however, might backfire by putting even more of a spotlight and thus more of a target on Freedom’s back. Instead, the Biden administration should announce it is sanctioning Turkey because of a whole range of issues, of which this is merely the last straw.

To be sure, Biden should leave no doubt that the bounty is the immediate cause of what comes next. A president must make absolutely clear that no foreign nation is ever allowed to put a bounty on the head of a specific U.S. citizen in this fashion. Despite his Turkish origins, Freedom is a U.S. citizen, having shown the respect and seriousness necessary to become legally naturalized. As such, he merits the full protection of the U.S. government. If Turkey wants him arrested for daring to criticize its pathetically oversensitive dictator, it must follow international law and ask the U.S. to extradite Freedom….. [The full column is here.]


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